Try as they might, no one can poke fun at a sport quite like Will Ferrell.
First he did the soccer-dad comedy "Kicking and Screaming." Next there was the NASCAR send-up "Talladega Nights." And his latest effort is the figure-skating comedy "Blades of Glory" -- opening this Friday.
These two clearly have a special relationship.
I recently sat down with Ferrell and Heder:
Jon, your skating experience was limited to roller blades. And Will, you're a SoCal boy. So how much skating did you guys actually do?
Jon Heder: Going on and off the ice, that was all us.
Will Ferrell: The first time Chazz and Jimmy skate together -- the fire-and-ice thing -- that whole beginning part is all us. The twirling around and skating. It's hard to give you a percentage. But all of the spots where they could use us, they definitely did.
JH: They'd use doubles mostly on the lifts and really big spins and jumps.
Jon, take us through how you broke your ankle.
JH: [Pause] It's an emotional moment.
WF: A roller coaster.
JH: I was going for a spin, and my blade dug a little too deep into the ice and my foot held tight, so my body kept spinning but my foot didn't. I thought I sprained it, but the doctor said, "Nah, it's broken."
They had to adjust the schedule, obviously. Was there any danger that the movie would be scratched?
JH: We thought the movie was over. They even told us a few times that the movie was going to have to be canned.
Will, any injuries for you?
WF: A broken heart. [Points to Heder] From this one. [Laughs] No, I didn't have any injuries.
Will, you did the impossible: Your "Chazz Michael Michaels" makes ice skating sorta sexy. Sorta. And
WF: Sorta? I thought I brought it all the way.
Sure you did. Your other personas, like Ricky Bobby and Ron Burgundy, were strangely sexy too. So what is it about your bizarre sex appeal that you keep getting cast in these roles?
WF: I think it's just animal attraction. [Pause] That people have to me. Which other people can't deny. Right? Because you're feeling it right now. I can tell by the bead of sweat on your forehead.
(Reporter wipes bead of sweat from forehead. Everyone laughs, except reporter.)
I'm sure they'll miss putting on those costumes.
WF: He was kind of patterned after Elvis Stojko, who's kind of like the bad boy of skating. And there's this Russian guy, Evgeny Plushenko. And we saw footage of this French skater who skates shirtless the whole time. That's where we got the idea where Chazz licks a lady. Even though you see skaters who try to act sexy, you still remain within the confines of being a skater. I think Chazz cares the least about skating. He just wants to make love to the audience.
Jon, who is your "Jimmy" character modeled after?
JH: There's a lot of Johnny Weir in there. There's a lot of traditional-type skaters, like Plushenko and the Russian skaters, who are very precise and incorporate classical music into their routines. We went the more traditional route with him. Even with the costumes.
WF: Which, not to toot Jon's horn, but the peacock [costume that Jimmy wears] was all Jon's idea.
Will, you've parodied various sports -- and Jon, this being your first experience with this specific genre -- what is the reaction you receive from fans of these sports?
WF: Well, I think it was kind of evident by "Talladega Nights"' success last year that it worked for NASCAR fans. It was the perfect storm that we hoped would happen: that people who weren't familiar with the sport loved the movie and die-hard fans loved the movie. When we were testing the movie, the highest-testing people were people who proclaimed themselves to be racing fans. They liked it the most of anyone.
JH: And definitely with this movie.
WF: We're finding the same with this. The cameos [by skaters] that you saw. It was kind of uncanny. We were expecting a lot of flak, but they embraced it. There's something about ice skaters. They know how hard the sport is and yet they have an incredible sense of humor about it too. They were loving every joke. If anything, they were like, "Go even further with it." [Pause] Plus, even if they were mad at us, I'm not really worried about getting beat up by a figure skater.
JH: [Laughs] If we're on the ice, then it's different.
WF: Yeah, but then I'm not in fear of getting coldcocked in the back of the head by Michelle Kwan.
WF: But I hope she doesn't. I hope she likes the movie.
Sam Alipour is based in Los Angeles. His Media Blitz column appears in ESPN The Magazine and regularly on Page 2. You can reach him at Sam.Alipour@gmail.com.